It’s a fact and a blessing that Montreal will never lack in festivals to fill in weekends or even weekdays. This past Thursday marked the beginning of the fourth edition of M for Montreal, a festival that caters to journalists, labels, and music lovers alike. The festival has matured since its conception in 2006 and has gained an international following. This year’s festival featured 27 acts over a three-day span.
Thursday began with Final Flash, a francophone quintet that plays straightforward folk-rock with a slight tinge of psychedelia and sings in English. The band, still in its early days, is touching up their debut album, Homeless, that is slated to drop sometime by the end of the year.
By far the best set of the night belonged to the much hyped &-and deservingly so- Think About Life. While the venue was much less personal than the makeshift stage the band took to for the Pop Montreal festival this past September, Think About Life delivered in a big way. Vocalist Martin Cesar brought energy to the crowd and fed off whatever was thrown back, including numerous balloons bouncing around. It was a high-energy set to round off the first night.
Cadence Weapon, who must hold the record for the most guest appearance in a year, joined Think About Life for a song midway through the set. It wouldn’t be Cadence Weapon’s last appearance of the festival.
Other notable sets came from You Say Party! We Say Die! and Miracle Fortress, the stripped down solo project of Think About Life’s guitarist and sample wizard Graham Van Pelt.
Even though Parlovr was not the headlining act of Friday night’s line up, they proved that they are quite capable of one day leading the pack. The trio play a dirty, muddled mix of indie rock with a heavy amount of keyboard thrown in for good measure. It’s a frantic, sometimes screaming, mess but it’s a pleasure to watch up on stage.
Le Matos, a trio of DJs who must have never heard the old adage about too many cooks in the kitchen, closed Friday night with a strobe light heavy electronica set. The equipment was set up in a horseshoe surrounded by a wall of lighting. While one taps away at whatever electronic gear set out in front of them, another tweaks away at the sound.
The Silly Kissers played a slightly twee take on 80s synthpop that lived up to the silly descriptor of their moniker. Toronto’s DD/MM/YYYY brought a peculiar touch to the night as they played their abstract and shifting set of art rock.
Saturday night’s line up was pegged to be the grand finale of this year’s edition with big names like Melissa Auf Der Maur, the former bassist for Hole, Malajube, Champion & Ses G-Strings, and this year’s Polaris Music Prize winner Fucked Up.
The crowd that crammed into the Metropolis was strange at best, absolutely rude at worst.
After a high energy set by Champion that included the DJ conducting a small orchestra of a bass and multiple guitars, the crowd clamoured for an encore. With the strict timing of the event on their minds, the organizers informed the crowd that an encore was not possible. What followed was a chorus of boos and half hearted calls to draw Champion back out. It wasn’t meant to be, Fucked Up were the next to take the stage.
Within a minute of the first chords, a mass exodus of the Metropolis was underway. This was not a crowd for the aggressive hardcore punk of Fucked Up. A handful of people were left in front of the stage to witness what was to become the most memorable set of the festival.
Damian Abraham, the vocalist who also goes by the name of Pink Eyes, left the stage early into the set shirtless and wandered into the crowd still tethered by the mic chord. What followed was a mixture of headlocks, crowd pummelling, bearded kisses, and a total collapse to the plastic cup littered floor for dramatic effect.
By the end, Abraham emerged from the crowd with the mic and was left wearing only his underwear. The few that lingered to see this truly fucked up set will always remember the time they were kissed by Damian Abraham at the best show of M for Montreal.
With another edition done and gone, M for Montreal has brought the talent of Montreal and Canada as a whole to the attention of the world. Next year can only get bigger and better.